No Country for Old Men

As many of you know, I have been on an extended dating hiatus for the past six months or so. What started off as an intentional choice ended up dragging on longer than I expected. For the past few months I’ve been telling people that I’m going to give online dating another try. I’ll say, “Oh yes, I’m totally going to create my profile this weekend” and then the next time we see each other it still hasn’t happened. On Friday night, when I caught myself browsing Etsy for tiny, ugly Christmas sweaters for Joe the Intern, I realized that drastic measures were in order. I opened a new window and immediately signed up for an OK Cupid account.

Although I haven’t gone any dates yet, I feel like this is the first step towards taking control of and revitalizing my love life – and it feels good. Now that I’m officially on the market again, I’ve sensed a change in my attitude. I’m feeling optimistic and I’ve started to notice men everywhere. The world is full of possibilities!  Or, something. I’m feeling pretty good about myself lately and I feel like men are responding to that – perhaps, too much. I’ve been attracting men – very, very old men.

I don't mind a slightly older guy - i.e. late 30's, early 40's. This is NOT what I am going for.

Let me explain –

If you follow my Instagram or Facebook, you’re probably aware that for the past few months I have been helping my Mom sell her vintage wares at our local flea market. Ideally, it’s not how I’d like to spend every Sunday but I like doing it because I know it helps my Mom. Also, hanging out at a flea market makes for some pretty entertaining people watching and encounters with quirky characters. These are the kind of people who wear ugly Christmas sweaters un-ironically. But most of them – like the lady who has been supplying me with “friends” for Joe the Intern – are really sweet.

As you may have imagined, as a early 30-something I’m usually the youngest person there. Because of this – and the fact that my Mom also possesses the “Izma” (who do you think I inherited it from?!) –  our table usually gets a lot of attention from the ahem, male flea marketers.

There’s Jerry, the guy who sells coffee and donuts, Noel the scrap metal guy, and of course, Jim who usually has a table next to us. When it comes to the flea market, Jim is definitely the “big man on campus.” The ladies love Jim and the men want to be him because his table always has a really great spread of old coins and watch parts. However, I also suspect his popularity also has something to do with the fact that he’s well over 65 and still has a full head of white hair. People flock to his table of broken down watches and jewelry like Tweens at a One Direction autograph signing. It’s uncanny.

I spend a lot of time chatting with these guys, which usually involves helping them figure out how to properly use their iPhones. It helps pass the time and sometimes they’ll give me a deal on a piece of vintage jewelry. To be honest, I thought that by being friendly, I might be able to score a date for my Mom – seeing how they’re single and the same age.

On Sunday we were all standing around our respective tables – My Mom, Me, Noel and Jim – chatting, when Jim announces to my Mom,

“I really like chatting to your daughter. I mean, you’re great too…but,”

She responded by letting him know, “Well Jim, a lot of people like Simone. It’s OK, I’m used to it!”

That’s when Noel jokingly put his arm around me and told everyone, “That’s right! You’re going to have to fight me for her!”

I laughed it off, because hello these guys are senior citizens and we’re all a flea market. This banter was all in good fun – or so I thought.

Later that afternoon I wandered over to Noel’s table to see what he was selling. As I was looking at his scrap metal collection, trying to kill time, he says to me:

“So, Simone – I guess, um, Jim has a claim on you?”

“Sorry, Noel – what?!”

“You and Jim”

“Oh, Noel. I was just joking around!”

(Um, I thought that was painfully obvious?!)

“Well, are you available?”

“Oh, no I’m sorry – I’m not.”

“That’s too bad, I was going to ask you out for dinner. I like nice restaurants.”

“That’s nice Noel, but I think we’re in different age brackets.”

“What do you mean?”

(Was he serious?!)

“I think you’re a little too old for me.”

“Really? I’m only in my mid-50’s and work out.”

Eventually I managed to make a graceful exit from that conversation. When I got back to the table where my Mom was sitting, she handed me a piece of paper.

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Greetings From The Bro-Zone

A few weeks ago, when I found out the guy I was interested in was seeing someone, I told one of my friends about the situation.

“So, he just casually slipped it into the conversation that he was dating someone, like out of the blue?!”

I was about to reply when it hit me –

“Yes, it was like he was telling his Bro or something. OMG, HE THINKS I’M HIS BRO. I’m in the Bro-Zone!”

I’m no stranger to the Bro-Zone. I’ve been in and out of the “zone” so many times over the past decade I’ve lost count.

Years ago, when I had just moved to Toronto started dating my first Toronto boyfriend, we went out for brunch with two of his best friends. We were still in the honeymoon stage and I remember my ex telling his buddies,

“Isn’t Simone great?!”

To which one of his buddies replied, “Yeah! You know who you remind me of Simone? You’re like the real life version of Janeane Garofalo’s character on Seinfeld. She’s funny, smart and sarcastic but when Jerry tries to date her he can’t because she reminds him too much of himself”

“Yeah, I mean you’re totally attractive but I’d never want to sleep you. You’re like, one of the guys. You’re too smart and cool to actually have sex with.”

The disturbing part was that I watched as my ex-boyfriend nodded in approval.

Ok, so being compared to Janeane Garofalo isn’t the worst thing ever (because, hello, she’s awesome) and I get that it’s totally not cool to tell your buddy, “Hey, I want to bang your girlfriend!” – but, was the last part really necessary?!

(For those of you who don’t “Speak Seinfeld” please see below)

This wasn’t the last time that I would unexpectedly find myself in what I’ve come to call the Bro-Zone. The ex I mentioned above would eventually decide that he wanted to be in the Bro-Zone all the time…and preferably naked. He bid farewell to vagina and our relationship when he broke things off a year later to date a guy he had met while working on a production of “Guys and Dolls.” File that under, “World’s Biggest Cliches.”

About a year after we split, I had a falling out with two of my closest female friends at that time. My partying had reached the point of self-destruction and both falling outs were the result of some pretty terrible decisions on my part. Although I knew my behaviour was at fault, the end of these friendships made me sad. I was carrying around so much guilt and hurt that for the next few years I was almost afraid to make new female friends out of fear that I might fuck those friendships up too. Instead, I focused on being friends with guys.

I love having male friends. Guys tend to be pretty straightforward and as long as you don’t sleep together (and even sometimes when you do), there’s considerably less drama than what often comes hand in hand with many female friendships. Looking to escape my recent bout of girl-drama, I took comfort in my male friendships.

In the inner circle, there was my Gay BFFs – my friend Trevor, one of my closest friends from BC (and my former prom date) and my friend Chris who was also my next-door neighbour.  Between these two, there was always someone around to talk to (often bemoaning dating, or the lack thereof), cook dinner with, go to concerts with & to spend late nights watching sex and the city episodes with when we were too tired or broke to go out drinking. These guys were my rocks and I don’t think I would have made it through that period of my life without them.

At the time I worked at a store that sold beauty products. Through my male coworkers I met a whole other slew of “gay boyfriends.” When I wasn’t hanging out with Trevor or Chris, I was getting into drunken antics with these guys. Gender never played a part in my other friendships, however my Gay Boyfriends always made a point of letting me know I was one of the guys – or, as they liked to say “One of the girls!”

I also had my straight male friends. We’d drink beer together after class, talk about “chicks” and sometimes they would help me lift heavy furniture. I was intent on becoming the best pseudo-bro I could be. For awhile there I was like the Paul Rudd to their Seth Rogan, The Michael Cera to their Jonah Hill, the Bradley Cooper to the Wolf Pack – except, I had boobs.

This photo is just as awkward for me as it is for you. Photoshop is not my strong suit. 

Then, there were the guys I slept with. I’ll get to those guys in a minute…

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Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

Going from a long-term relationship to being single again is an adjustment process. When you’re with the same person for a really long time and then suddenly you’re not, it’s like you have to re-learn how to be single. In my case, the last time I was single for an extended period of time was when I was in my early 20’s and as I’ve learned, being single as a 30-something is a completely different ball-game. I’ve been single for two years now, but there are still things I’m getting used to. From having feelings for people to being rejected, emotions and situations will present themselves, catching you off guard.

Recently I found out that a guy I was into is now dating someone. Really, it shouldn’t be that big a deal. Although this person and I have hooked up in the past, we never made any promises to each other and I knew in the back of my head that the likelihood of anything more happening between us was slim. I knew this was always a possibility, it’s just the news hit me harder than I expected. It left me with this sinking feeling in my stomach that I’ve had a hard time shaking. As a so-called bad-ass sex and relationship blogger I’m supposed to have thicker skin than this, so why do I feel so…well, uncomfortable?

I read an interesting post a while back by Shannon of Frugal Beautiful about how her journey becoming a long distance runner has taught her to become more “comfortable with being uncomfortable.” This is exactly how I feel about the “gladiator” fitness classes  I’ve been taking. When I’m at the gym early in the morning trying to hold a one-armed plank, you better believe it’s uncomfortable. Your whole body is straining, often times shaking, and all you can do is breathe through it. It fucking sucks, but you do it anyways because the hard parts are what make it good. Thanks to years of ballet training, I’m no stranger to physical discomfort or pushing my body to the max but I’m not use to this emotional stuff.

In the past these kinds of feelings would have sent me off on a tailspin of vodka, impulse shopping, more vodka and bad decisions, however this time around I haven’t done any of those things. Last weekend I went out for drinks and politely declined several rounds of shots that were offered to me. Although I drank steadily throughout the evening, I failed to get drunk or do anything I’d regret later. I guess making myself numb isn’t as appealing as it used to be.

Instead, I’ve been working out like a beast, perfecting my roundhouse punch-kick-combo at the gym and being super productive at work.  I haven’t even tried to eat my feelings and my carb intake is shockingly low this week. In other words, despite some emotional discomfort I’m actually doing really great.

I’ve realized that without the haze of vodka or acute anxiety to cover them up, I have a lot of feelings. I’m way more sensitive than I like to admit and when I like someone, I get attached (which has made me re-evaluate how I feel about casual sex in the first place.) It takes me a while to process all the feelings, but once I do I’m fine.

And that’s the thing – sometimes being single feels like you’re doing a one-armed plank with your heart. You’re out there, you’re vulnerable and sometimes it’s really, really uncomfortable, but unless you’re willing to become a hermit (which I’m not), there’s no way around it. You have to forge ahead.

So, here I am. Getting more comfortable with the uncomfortable. Breathing. Waiting for things to shift. Because I know they will. They always do.

How To Get Ready For a Night Out as a 30-Something

Last week, when the Universe sent me a sign that I’m likely headed towards a life of living alone with an extensive collection of cat figurines, I decided to take matters in my own hands. Within a few minutes of publishing my last blog post I was on my phone texting one of single friends to arrange a girls night out.

Although I still love a good night of drinks and dancing, getting ready for a night on the town as a 30-something is an entirely different operation than getting ready for a night out as an early 20-something. When I was in my early 20’s party prep usually involved getting drunk in the shower, putting on clothes & eating a piece of 3 day old pizza so I wouldn’t throw up later. Party prep as a 30-something involves considerably more pre-planning.

Game day – 

The key to a successful night out relies on establishing the perfect caffeine to power nap ratio. You want to have just enough caffeine in your system to feel human, but not enough that you feel too jittery to have a late afternoon power nap. Failure to power nap before heading out will likely result in your getting the nods at 11pm or worse, copious pre-game consumption of red bull. You’ve learned from your twenties that the latter never ends well.

You look in the mirror and realize that your roots are starting to look way more like Barrack Obama circa 2013 than 2009. There’s no way you can go out like this, which means you’re going to have a to schedule in a trip to the drugstore to buy hair dye.

However, be careful that you don’t linger at the mall and whatever you do don’t say yes to that second latte – you wouldn’t want to risk missing out on your precious nap time! You end up lingering at the mall anyways (“Oooh, free tea testing at David’s Tea!”) leaving you only a 2 hour window to eat, dye your hair and get ready. Colouring your hair under tight time constraints: what could possibly go wrong?!

Forgo nap time. Make coffee instead.

Nutrition – 

You’ve learned from an unfortunate incident in your twenties where you spent two hours throwing up in the washroom of Woody’s that eating before drinking is imperative. To ensure optimal stomach comfort you eat a healthy, protein rich meal with just enough carbs to make you feel full without making you feel sleepy. Now it’s time for the grooming portion of the evening!

Grooming – 

In effort to get the hair dye on your head in the most efficient way possible you manage to drop the applicator. The dye splatters everywhere. There’s purple goop on the counter, on the floor, on the ceiling, behind the toilet.

Purple? That doesn’t seem right.

20 minutes later: Your hair isn’t purple. However, in the haste of cleaning up the bathroom, you’ve also managed to get the dye all over yourself. Your arm now has this weird purplish black pattern that looks like a cross between a bruise and a prison tattoo gone wrong. If you keep your right arm glued to your body the whole night no one will notice. Yes, that will totally work.

Your beauty routine hasn’t changed that much since your early 20’s. However, as a 30-something you’ve developed an addiction to $50 YSL Concealer. When you worked in your cushy day job you wore it everyday, however now that you’re a freelance writer you dole out your YSL with the same discretion as Elaine Benes deciding whether a guy is “Sponge Worthy.” It’s time to bring out the big guns. You apply your YSL liberally and hope it’s worth it.

Wardrobe Selection – 

Your hair & make-up are done and you’re feeling pretty awesome. Now, comes the tricky part: deciding what to wear. As a woman of the world, you know exactly what to wear for a night out in Toronto, Las Vegas, or even Miami. However, when it comes what to wear to go out in Sleepytown you always draw a blank. You know that whatever you decide to wear, you’re likely going to be overdressed or look out of place. If you show up in jeans and heels, everyone will be in sweats. If you show up in a cocktail dress, everyone will be in jeans. If you show up in a Elie Tahari suit, everyone will be in skin-tight body-con dresses. You can’t win.

At 8:01 pm you decide to say “Fuck it!” and go for a look you call “downtown cool” – a white Alexander Wang silk blouse, a vintage Tibi mini-skirt & a Miu Miu clutch. At 8:01 pm you put the Alexander Wang blouse back in the closet after you have visions of someone spilling Jungle Juice all over you. At 8:02 the Tibi skirt also goes back in the closet when you remember what a bitch it is to dry clean.

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The ‘Izma. I Got It.

I have a serious case of the ‘Izma.

The ‘Izma isn’t a rare tropical disease, nor is it the latest STD you’ve never heard of  (even if it was, having it would require having some of the “S” which sadly hasn’t happened in a while.) Besides, I’m pretty sure I’ve had the ‘Izma since birth. Luckily, I don’t have to suffer alone.

It’s no secret that I have a knack for attracting weirdos. However, if you think it’s an isolated talent/curse – think again. After careful observation I’ve come to the conclusion that the ‘Izma is completely hereditary. So, what exactly is the ‘Izma? It’s a term my Mom and I coined to describe her side of the family’s innate ability to attract people – good, bad or otherwise.  Like it’s close cousin, “Charisma”, the ‘Izma draws people in to your circle – however, in this case it operates with the same level discrimination as a commercial tuna fishing boat, casting it’s net so wide it ends up killing 8 dolphins and taking down a small submarine in the process.

It’s likely because of the Izma that I’ve been flashed way more times than I’d like to admit.

If you’ve ever been the recipient of a creepy mix-tape, acquired a stalker, been subject to multiple exposed strange penises, been hit on by one of the original cast members of Degrassi High, had a sexually explicit conversation with your Barista or been involved in a scenario that resembles this, this or this – it’s likely you also suffer from a case of the ‘Izma.

The 'Izma - Like a Beacon of shining light to weirdos everywhere.

 According to my Mom, both my Grandma and Grandpa possessed the ‘Izma. In her heyday, my Grandma was often the recipient of inappropriate crushes from my Grandpa’s friends and business associates. Even when she was in her 60’s, there was a man who would repeatedly call the house professing his love for my grandma and begging her to leave my grandpa. My Mom remembers the time my Grandma finally told him off, in her typically firm but polite manner.

“Doug you need to get in touch with reality. You’re not in love with me. Please stop calling here.”

My Mom has also been the recipient of numerous flashings, bizarre romantic overtures and frequent encounters with weirdos. A few years ago, a local busker developed an aggressive infatuation with her.

(“Gurl, why you nah call me?”)

Although the situation eventually resolved itself – as Mr. Busker faded into the distance, you can still see my Mom tense up whenever she hears the sound of steel drums.

However, the ‘Izma is not restricted to interactions with the opposite sex. Before the concept of a “Bro-Mance” was even a thing, my Mom said that men from the neighbourhood would often knock on their door inquiring about my Grandpa’s whereabouts.

“Uh, is your Dad home?”

“I think so, why?”

“Um, no reason. I just wanted to see if he was home and what he was doing…like, if maybe he was working on something in the garage  that I could help with.”

During one fateful summer, our family business received just as many requests to build swimming pools, as it did anonymous nude photos.

vintage-illustration-romance

When left to fester, the 'Izma can easily get out of control.

I’m not sure why these things happen to us. Although I like to think my family is a good looking group, we’re not exactly the Brady Bunch. We have dark hair, blue eyes, lanky bodies and distinctly Slavic features – all signs of our Polish-German-Russian stock. It’s something else – possibly an innate welcoming friendliness that seems to shine like a Beacon to weirdos everywhere. (“Come talk to us. We’ll accept you…or at the very least, we won’t yell at you right away!”)

Well, you guys, with the arrival of my Birthday Month it seems as though my “Weirdo Beacon” is shining especially bright. Here are a few of the things that have happened during the past week:

1) I’ve been hit on by not one, but two different men over the age of 60. One encounter occurred while I was at one of my favourite shopping spots trying on a very reasonably priced vintage Ralph Lauren dress. I stepped out of the change-room to inspect the dress in the three way mirror when a white haired man (who was shopping with his 30-something daughter) said, “Damn. Maybe it’s just you…but you seriously need to buy that dress.” (UH, SERIOUSLY?)

2) While out running errands the other day, a frail man in his 80’s walked by me and said in a deep, throaty voice, “NICE. STUFF” (SHUDDER)

3) I was walking home from the gym when I heard a voice call from behind me.

“MISS? EXCUSE ME!”

I turned around to see a 19 or 20 year old guy with a very prominent neck tattoo, dressed in baggy jeans and a baseball cap.

“UM, I DON’T USUALLY DO THIS, BUT…I WANTED TO ASK YOU…OH SHIT. NEVER MIND.”

“Uh, Ok?”

I turned around and kept walking. A few seconds later,

“HEY! UM, MISS! I WAS GOING TO ASK YOU…”

“Buddy, just spit it out.”

“NO, WAIT I’M TOO SHY”

“I’m too old. I don’t have time for this.”

When I looked behind me, Junior Neck Tattoo had disappeared.

4) On Saturday night Courtney Love was playing an outdoor concert for Rifflandia. I didn’t have a ticket but decided to wander down to the venue to see if I could catch some of the concert. Not only could hear everything from just outside the venue (It was pretty amazing), I also learned that outdoor concerts and the ‘Izma are a dangerous mix. I was standing by the fence listening to Courtney sing all of my teenage favourites when a very drunk man with an annoying laugh (HA! HUH HUH! GO COURTNEY. FUCKING A! HUH HUH HERRR HUHHHH!)  approached me.

“You’re beautiful. HUH HAHA! HHAHA HUH HUH HUH. Are you married?”

“Uh yes. Definitely yes.”

“Lucky Man. WHOA! HAH HAH LOOK AT THAT HUH HUH HA HAAAA!”

As I started to inch away from him, he asked –

“Do you work out?”

“Um, yes?”

“You can tell just by looking at your jawline”

(HUH?)

Yes, friends – the men in this city are officially out of hiding – for better, but more likely for worse.

Apparently Venus is in Virgo this month, which means Virgo chicks like me are romantically supercharged. My friend told me that in order to find love I need to put out the vibe that I am open to new possibilities. I have been trying to tap into this however, it’s working a little too well this month. With the exception of a cute, ginger haired guy who wished me a “beautiful day” last week, all of my interactions with the opposite sex recently have been, well, kind of creepy.

Although possessing the ‘Izma makes for some great stories, I wish I could fine tune it to attract only the people I want to attract. I know I already got spoiled for my Birthday however, if I’m allowed one more Birthday wish this year – Universe, please send me someone who is kind, attractive and most importantly, age appropriate that I can flirt with. If they don’t wear aqua socks or have any neck tattoos, even better. Thanks in advance, signed, me.

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